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September 2007


We flew across the sea to Ireland today and it is as green as the songs say.  We picked up our hire car and set off down the coast.  The weather is a cool 10 degrees C, but it doesn't seem to be as cold as it is in Brisbane.

We had lunch/dinner at a small place in Greystones which is on the coast. I think it would be quite lovely in good weather but the wind had whipped up the white caps and all the boats had been locked away.  We are staying in a B&B at Rathdrum.  A small rural town not far from Witlow and it has Wireless Internet.  I think it will be the last time we will find anything until we get back to Dublin in 8 days time.


We plan to spend 4 days on the Dingle peninsula which is out on the West Coast.  This is close to the Lakes of Killarney and other places we would like to see.  It now feels as though we have started our holiday.  Up till now it has been work.  So hopefully we can both do a bit of relaxing.

Devonshire Teas

Actually, we found it really hard to find Devonshire teas.  It wasn't until we were leaving that we found a teahouse advertising the tea and it looked a bit off.

Guy and Donna had a wedding in Devon so Bill and I went along as well.


It has been 30 years since I have driven a car in England.  Back then I was one of the only cars on the road.  Now the roads are about the same but the population is up to 70 million and nearly everyone has a car.  Getting down country lanes is an experience.  You fold in your side mirrors and pray.  They don't have freeways like the ones at home, they are often just one lane in each direction.  Or they go from two lanes down to one on a regular basis and have a notice saying there could be queuing!  It took us 7 1/2 hours to go about 250Kilometers.


It was a beautiful day for the wedding.  The sun was shinning and a gentle breeze.  Bill and I drove down to Dartmouth and spent the day exploring the coast with it's little villages, little lanes and big 4 wheel drives coming in the other direction. 

I found 2 wonderful churches. 

Dscf0066 The first St Petroc is set on the point next to the castle.  It was founded in 596 by a disciple of St.Patrick.  They had a photo of his relics.  They had been stolen and then rescued by the Norman Kings.  They are in France now, which is probably a good thing when you see what the round-heads did to St.Saviours.  This is a very old church and St. Petroc seems to have been like St. Francis having an affinity with animals.  His symbol shows a deers antlers because he saved the deer from the huntsmen.

St. Saviour's is down in the village further up the harbour.  It was a pirates church.  Francis Drake, and others worshiped here.  It has beautiful woodwork inside the church and then I read that they had "salvaged" it from a Spanish Galleon.  You can see where the round-heads tried to destroy the images in the church.  Sounds a bit like the Talliband!Dscf0116

What they couldn't destroy,because they were too high were the ceilings and they shine there today.Dscf0110  I notice that they used to fine you if you didn't go to church and that one man was fined ten shillings for 'tippling' on the sabbath!

The gallery at the back of the church was the galleons poop deck! One of the mayors of the town was up on trial for attacking a friendly ship and his defense was that it was difficult to tell the difference between friendly and foe, so he erred on the side of caution.

We had Fish and Chips with everyone else on the waterfront. 

Dscf0095a There amongst it all was a man fishing, and another sailing through all the high powered boats.


Further up the harbour you could see the Dartmouth Navel College.  It is really a small place to have seen so many momentous occasions.

The town of Dartmouth is full of great small shops and galleries and the occasional busker.


The next day the weather turned nasty.  Rain,cold and wind.  The sea turned from a mill pond to being dangerous.


We stopped in Dawlish and had a wonderful meal at a teashop and then made the long trip back to London.  Stop start stop start.  Oh boy that traffic.

Around the cliffs there are still wild parts with thick forest and steep hill sides.  It is almost untouched in places with surprised me.  Here and there you could see wild flowers blooming amongst the green.


We leave for 10 days in Ireland tomorrow.  I will take my laptop and post if I can get a connection.

Hampton Court Palace

The Royal School of Needlework is housed at the rear of Hampton Court Palace and the rooms over look  the gardens and the river.  I wish I was young again and knew all I know about textiles today.  You would find me applying for an apprenticeship at this school.

Dscf0019_2 The Palace itself has changed a lot since last I was here.  I can still smell the rose water when I go into Queen Caroline's private apartments. And those  tapestries in Henry V111's main hall still have me standing in awe.  You know each one cost the equivalent of the cost of an aircraft carrier with out the planes, EACH.  The mind boggles.

But today it was the garden that captured my imagination.  I saw Lantana used as a standard, you know that terrible weed?  Well today it looked beautiful.         Dscf0069


The other flowers were the roses. It rained in the afternoon and they were covered in raindrops and the greylight made their colours even more exquisite.Dscf0086


And this flower just shone in the afternoon light.


As I walked back to the train I saw a lone swan on the river.  I think it would make a great embroidery.Dscf0105w


Last day at the V&A

Today was my last day at the V&A.  As I walked out the door I wondered if I will ever return?  I have spent a good part of the last 6 days there but still didn't get time to study everything.  I thought that I would limit myself to the embroidery but other exhibits would take my attention.  Sometimes having to concentrate so hard required that I left the room and just wandered. Dscf0260 I loved the chandelier and flowers in the enterance Dscf0263_2 and the lemon trees in the centre courtyard.


Now one problem one has when traveling is finding a loo.  In Europe they charge 40c per visit or you could go to the ones that are around the streets.  Some of these would be over 100 years old, but you don't have to pay.Dscf0587

An interesting development is that the men and women have the same loos.  I found it really amusing to watch the men.  They are not used to lining up like women are.  You can see them get fed up and walk out.  In the V&A I got to find a variety  of loos.  Dscf0012 I liked the tile work in this one.

And in another one I found a new type of hand dryer.  A dyson.  It is the fastest and best hand dryer I have ever used. Tomorrow it's on to the Royal School of Needlework.


London Fashion

Today has been clothing, and more clothing,and shops.  My poor feet.

I was taken to the London Fashion week parades today.  I didn't look the part in my jeans and I did get some rather weird looks from the security men but I had my pass and they let me in.  I think I the Australian presentations better but there were some good designs.

After this I went with Jan to Oxford St where she works and she showed me the shops.  I lost count of all the department stores.  I particularly liked John Lewis and Selfridge's.  Dscf0003 John Lewis for the space and range of products.  They also sponsor work of young designers from the Royal College of Art, something that the stores in Australia might learn from.

And Selfridge's for their wonderful window displays. They have a style that leaves every one else behind.Dscf0012 This one was in a window that was being redone.  I just love it.Dscf0014

The colours are still mustard, purple, black and lime. 

A bit hard for an old chock like me but great for the young.  And that baby doll shape is in everywhere. Dscf0016 One shop actually had live models in cylinders on the pavement!  The 50's swing jacket is there and in fact the whole of the look seems to be influenced by the 50's 20070706_120010580830_med

Well tomorrow it's back to the V&A, head down bum up.

Now for business

The time has now come to forget the swanning around and get down to business.  This week is packed with work.  It starts  with the Conference  hosted by the Textile Society, who's charter is "for the study of textile art, design and history ."  This is at the V&A. Then the London Fashion week across the road at the Natural History Museum and finally 3 days at the V&A where I have booked to see certain work.

The first day of the conference just blew me away.  It was held in the lecture hall in the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum.  About 200 delegates and the most wonderful line up of speakers.  The two that have really impressed me were the young couple from "Intelligent Textiles"
and Proffessor Hitoshi Ujiie from the University of Pensilvania.

These two presenters are at the cutting edge of textile development.  The first, Intelligent textiles have married computer circuitry and weaving and given it a whole new application.  It is interesting to note that the weaving is based on very old technology.  The goldsmith used to (and still do) extrude a fine silver wire which was coated with gold to be used in embroidery.  2007_0916airports0003a_3 This same technique is used to introduce computer circuitary into fabic.  It was originally conceived for those with disabilites but has been picked up by the military, police and the auto-industry, Mercedes in particular.  This is the beginning of a whole new world.

Proffessor Ujiie is involved in digital bubble jet printing of fabrics.  Not the short runs but huge commercial runs.  Once they solve some of the ink problems this is going to have a huge effect on the fabric printing industry.  A large run of printing that takes 48hrs  today  can be done in 2hrs  with digital  printing.   The big manufacturers in America  are gearing up  as is China .

On the way home I walked through the British Museum and had a look at some of the mummies.  I was very impressed with the way they were wrapped.  Some actually look like that new Japanese ribbon work.
And those feet look pretty real!

Back to England

I have been playing with those buttons on the computer and have decided on a new look.  I tried to put this cat onto the blog.  She was just so cute, but it wouldn't work.  She purred when you rubbed her tummy, meowed when you patted her and every so often a paw would come out and swat the cursor.

The last two days in Denmark were a bit disappointing.  I thought that we would take the train up the coast but Bill wanted to buy a couple of things and by that time it was too late.

Dscf0579 So we walked to the other side of the canal to look at the hippie commune.  There have been a few times in my life when the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  This was one of  them. Dscf0598_2

The streets around were rather run down but not too bad.

But, when we got into the commune ...  well it was like walking into a scene from one of those science fiction movies set in a city after a war or something.  And then it was also like those 19thC scenes in Oliver where Bill Sykes talks with all his cronies and those dogs are there.   Photography was not allowed,  too many desperadoes here.

I haven't had much joy sourcing textiles although I have found a number of weavers and the work of a Swedish designer, Gudrum Sjoden. You can look at her designs for both clothing and home-ware at very Scandinavian but also quite stunning.  I was impressed by the difference in ages of her models and the range of sizing that she retails.  Also, she only has two retail outlets and her main business seems to be Internet sales.


In the crush I lost Bill again but stumbled on a lovely park.  We spent out last night at the Tivoli gardens very old fashioned and naive but nice.Dscf0625


By the time we had paid the bill and got packed we had to head to the airport.  Bill said he had heard this computer music during the night and we thought it might have been a wake up call.The plane was delayed so we sat around and killed time.  Finally it was back on the plane, onto the train, change for the tube because of a fire at one of the stations, and back to Clapham Common, only to find the kids not home!  Now remember that music, it was a mobile Guy had put in my bag but now the battery was flat and we couldn't retrieve the message.  After a lot of mucking around we got another mobile working to find out they wouldn't be home till late and we had no key.  We went to find a cafe to sit in until they arrived home and then we were so tired and cold we just fell into bed.

There are a couple of photos I took of men sitting on benches, I quite like them.Dscf0620_2


The rest of Denmark

The weather went from cloudy to heavy rain back to cloudy over the last couple of days and  cold.



On the Sunday we traveled to Roskilde,which is the old capital of Denmark.  This is where the Vikings had their capital and as they were seafaring it was located on a good harbour. Dscf0521 Trying to read town names in another language is really difficult and that person on the microphone at the railway station never says it the way you think it should be said.  Despite all of this we made the right connections and arrived in the town.  It was Sunday and everything except the Church and the Museum were closed.

This is a very old city, it goes back to well before 1000AD.  It is charming and has lovely old houses with thatched roofs and narrow cobbled streets all leading to the harbour. Dscf0553 It is a research centre for
Viking and neolithic settlements and the most outstanding feature is the Viking Museum where they display 5 old viking ships that they have pulled up from the fjord.  They also have a small harbour where they sail reproductions of the old boats and you to can go and freeze your bum off for a price.  I decided just to look.

This town also has a lot of ancient springs, which made it a good place for settlement.  This one runs at this volume or greater all the time.Dscf0520

Dscf0531 The project involving the weaving of  woollen sails  caught my imagination  and  I spent quite a bit of time  talking to the researchers.Dscf0532

We had a wonderful lunch down on the Quay and  then wandered  back to catch to train home.


All the country side is  ripe for harvest.  In every garden there seems to be fruit trees laden with fruit and farmers are out hay making.  There also seems to be a lot of horses everywhere we travel.

The next day it rained all day.  I was really pleased I took my wet weather gear with me.  This was the day I spent trying to find patchwork and embroidery shops and buying my Georg Jensen silver.  The silver part was easy only I was very guilty about all the money I spent.  I had come armed with a list of addresses from the net for the other shops and not one of them was in business any more.  This was a terrible disappointment.  But I was determined not to give up.  One thing I had seen were knitting shops so I found one where they spoke English and they directed me to the only shop in Copenhagen.  (It turned out there were plenty out in the countryside but not in the city).


This shop had wools, patchwork (American Fabrics) and embroidery supplies.  Again I had to restock from the teller machine. Knitting is the big thing here and the range of wools is amazing.  I found about 6 shops in the area that I covered.  Now, I only had I day because Bill complained sooooo much.  I returned to my  first wool shop and purchased some very expensive musk ox wool from the islands near Greenland.  Now I have to learn how to read a Danish knitting pattern.  The other thing I noted was the use of crochet as a fashion and accessory item, very prominent.  So that may be a trend heading our way in Australia.

Then the sun came out and the soldiers came down the road back from the changing of the guard at the palace.Dscf0565

Dscf0569 They have to stop for traffic lights like the rest of us.

My legs were so tired after all the walking but my Rockport shoes really are weather proof!

Denmark Day 1

It was bedlam at the airport.  We traveled by Ezijet.  One of those 20 pound flights, problem is this is how just about everyone fly over here and they were all at the airport at 6am.  No getting a seat allocation, its who every is in first.  Like most of Europe the airport is a fair way out from the city so we got a 72 hr pass for the train and headed of to the hotel.

Now this wasn't the fanciest hotel in Copenhagen but it was just a couple of blocks from the railway station, cheap, clean, we had our own bathroom and breakfast was included. Dscf0468 And,Oh what a breakfast, there was no need for lunch. It was Saturday when we arrived and the shops, museums, galleries, just about everything closes at 2pm and doesn't open until 10am on the following monday. Dscf0496 So, we spent the rest of the day wandering around the city trying to get orientated.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Its an old city and the streets are only 1 car wide in one direction and they are just a maze and all the names are Danish.

Dscf0469 We could say Hans Christian Anderson so found that street along with the town hall, his statue and these amazing dragons. Dscf0474 I have never seen anything like these before.  They actually look like crocodiles with the normal legs on the front and flippers at the rear.  I wonder if they were based on an actual creatures?



Further on in our walk we found a dragon tower.  It was on the top of the stock exchange.  I wonder if this had some kind of meaning?Dscf0573

Dscf0487 We eventually found the main drag, which was down by the canal.  They were selling fresh fruit from the boats and it looked delicious. 

Dscf0491 There is lots of really good produce in Denmark.  Cheeses,hams, fruit, vegetables and of course fish. 

We stopped for a coffee at the library on another canal.  They call the library the Black Diamond because it is made of black glass.  There don't seem to be any real high rise.  About 5 floors are the limit. 

Dscf0479 They had these great chairs out on the edge of the canal for people to sit in the sun.  I must say that the weather was decidedly cool.  I got my woollens out and didn't put them away till we got back to London.

The other thing about Copenhagen is that about 40% of the population ride bikes.  It is very flat and there  are designated sections of the road for bikes.  You can hire a bike and drop it off at one of the many drop off areas in the city. Paris has the same system.  One thing you have to do is make sure that you look out for them. Dscf0488 More than once I stepped off the curb and was nearly collected by a bike.  And the all come from the wrong direction!

We finished our walk on one of the canals where they had this statue of a fish wife.  Next day when I came down she had these really groovy glasses on.  On Sunday we will go to Roskilde, the former Viking Capital of Denmark.


Off to Denmark

Those days went so quickly.  Didn't do half the things I would have liked to but still did heaps.  The worst part was not having my lap top with me.  The problem was that we only had a small weight allowance and the laptop just tipped me over the edge.

I got back to England and then was off the next day.  We decided to stay overnight at a B&B, that our son had recommended, so that we could be at Standstead airport at 6am the next morning.  It was an uneventful train journey to Bishops Storton where we were to be picked up by the owner of the B&B.  We got there a bit early so wandered around the town.  Lots of kids around the place as school had just come out.  Just the same as in Australia really.  The private school kids looked like private school kids and the public school kids looked much the same as at home.  There was that naughty private school girl meeting her boyfriend from the State school and having a ciggarette.

Doug arrived and drove us to our destination at George Green Farm at Little Hallingwell.

Just like those pictures you see in the postcards. The house dates from the 1700's and has been well decorated.  It was homely and comfortable.


This is George Green Cottage.  Quite busy this George Green.


We took a country walk before dinner along the canal.


There were the old men fishing, just like in the movies.


I decided to investigate a side track and ended up in the blackberries and stinging nettles.  Still it could have been snakes! There were so many beautiful sights to see along the way.



We walked back through the fields to have dinner at the local pub, dodging the BMWs, Mercs and 4 wheel drives of the commuting residents, and then collapse into bed.  Problem was having to get up at 5am the next morning.  The pub served American sized servings, right over the edge of the plate.  Still, I wouldn't mind investigating this part of the country further.